Rose Russell and Edna Reilly

Ursuline Academy, Ilford


On International Women in Engineering Day, Designed for Life takes a moment to celebrate the work of two women who have made an amazing positive difference to girls' exposure to STEM opportunities within their school. 

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Rose Russell has been an outstanding Technician/Instructor/ STEM Coordinator at the Ursuline Academy, Ilford (an all girl’s catholic school) for 29 years in both the art and design and design and technology departments. Trained in fashion, Rose is neither an engineer nor a scientist, but in the last decade, her enthusiasm for engineering developed into an ongoing dedication to encourage young women to consider STEM careers and is determined to make a difference with an improved vision to tackle the UK Engineering skills gap. 

Rose’s work in promoting STEM has been exceptional. She is passionate about her subject and goes the extra mile to ensure the girls of the Ursuline receive the very best in terms of exposure to the benefits of STEM careers. Her impressive commitment has exceeded the classroom and its teaching tools. She has inspired and equipped her pupils to take on and enjoy the challenges of shaping our world’s future through STEM. A fantastic role model for girls.

Edna was a highly successful Head of Department at the Ursuline Academy for over 14 years, during which time she turned D&T into one of the most popular subjects in the school. The number of pupils taking D&T GCSE  was well above the national average and is a true testament to the innovative and creative curriculum that she implemented. 

Her GSCE results were the highest the school ever achieved, resulting in the best value-added score with large mixed ability groups achieving 100% A*-B. Edna created an award-winning department, winning several Crest awards, with projects catching the eye of the ex-Prime Minister David Cameron and HRH Princess Anne. She worked tirelessly to abolish archaic ideas that D&T and linked careers are only for males. Women in STEM frequently present to her classes as motivational speakers. Pupils return proudly describing how Edna’s inspirational examples have dispelled their fears that engineering was a male profession.

It was an absolute pleasure to talk to such passionate advocates of D&T and wider STEM education. So grab a coffee, pull up a chair, give yourself 40 minutes off and listen to Designed for Life in conversation with Edna Reilly and Rose Russell. 

This podcast was brought to you by The Design and Technology Association in partnership with The Edge Foundation

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